Sometimes, things are not meant to be…
I met Chris Furber, former Para-cycling Lead Coach at British Cycling’s base in Manchester, after making a tentative application to the BC Talent Squad over the winter. The meeting was fruitful and informative and got exciting when I bumped into Jody Cundy in the corridor under the Velodrome. I was a little star struck, and it was lovely of Chris to introduce us.
I travelled to Rossenau in France for the first Para-cycling race of the European Handcycle Circuit (EHC) early in March, where Chis would watch me race and see if I could possibly be funded for the UCI World Cup in Sergovia in June, depending on my performance.
The weather on race day was appalling, with the temperature barely above freezing and steady rain. I find it hard to race in the cold as it has such an adverse affect on my tone and spasticity and I have problems with temperature control. I couldn’t stop the violent shivering on the start line despite a warm-up lap.
Chris Peterson from Top End was watching the race, having become a major sponsor of the EHC series of races in 2013. He had pointed me out to a colleague before the race “Watch this girl, this should be a good race”.
I pushed down hard on the cranks in a heavy gear, wanting to keep with Rachel Morris who had told me to stick behind her to draft for the race. There was a loud noise and my seat back collapsed underneath me as soon as I set off, rendering me unable to either see over the cranks or reach to pedal. I coasted to a halt barely 50m from the start line and instantly knew my race was over before I’d even started.
Some Marshalls and spectators ran over to help, but without allan keys to fix the seat brackets, there was nothing they could do. A mechanical on the first race of the year and my first ever DNF was not how I had hoped to start my racing season.